Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen signed up Tuesday for another fight to see who will run South Carolina.
Haley hopes lower joblessness and a record of bringing jobs to the state win her another four years in the Governor’s Mansion. Sheheen hopes the Haley administration’s first-term mishaps translate into the victory that eluded him in 2010.
“It’s been a rough 31/2 years in South Carolina under our current governor, but I think the next four years are incredibly exciting and we’re going to bring leadership and accountability back to a broken state government,” Sheheen said after filing at the state Election Commission in Columbia.
Haley said she has clear differences with Sheheen — notably his support for the first three years’ Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act.
“This administration has worked hard as we possibly can to improve the lives of all people,” Haley said before meeting with volunteers at the S.C. GOP headquarters. “I represent all people. I fight for all people. And we have done that by putting all these jobs in rural counties.”
Haley beat Sheheen by 4.5 percentage points in the 2010 election, a margin that has pundits giving the Camden Democrat a chance of pulling off an upset in November.
Four years ago, Haley of Lexington was coming out of a divisive GOP primary. During her first term, she has worked to solidify her Republican support in red-state South Carolina. Haley also has more than twice the amount of cash on hand as Sheheen — $3.7 million to $1.4 million.
“We always knew Haley would have right-wing extremist groups from out of state flooding South Carolina with money, attempting to keep us from changing this state for the better,” Sheheen said. “The people of South Carolina aren’t dumb. They know we need change in our government.”
A third pro-Haley television ad campaign in a year, paid for by an outside group, starts airing Wednesday. Two of the ad campaigns, including the latest, were paid for by the pro-Haley Movement Fund political group. The Republican Governors Association, where Haley is on the executive committee, also aired ads this month.
S.C. Democrats and the Sheheen campaign have declined to discuss their strategy.
As governor, Sheheen, 42, said he would issue executive orders to release a consultant’s report on the hacking of the state Revenue Department that compromised the data of 6.4 million S.C. tax filers, and require state agencies to pay men and women equally for the same job. The Camden attorney also said he would push to reduce business property taxes and make 4-year-old kindergarten available statewide.
Sheheen also repeated a list of missteps by the Haley administration, including the massive data breach at the Revenue Department and delays in sharing information during a tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood. Despite improving job numbers that Haley touts, Sheheen said South Carolinians are earning less.
He also took Haley to task for failing to address K-12 education until an election year, having campaign workers travel with her in state cars and planes, and flying around the country for fundraisers.
Haley, 42, spent the weekend in California, where she spoke to two Republican groups and visited Google’s headquarters, according to her schedule released by the governor’s office. Her trip ended Tuesday in Washington, where she attended an economic-development meeting, her campaign said.
“If you look at every time that I’ve gone on a trade trip, if you look at when I go out of state, you see me bring jobs back,” she said, adding the state’s jobless rate has fallen below the national average for the first time in a decade.